There’s no place like home. Just ask Elmont native, Sophia Sunshine Vilceus, author of the best-selling novel, The Last Pew: Journeying Back To God’s Will After An Affair.
On Saturday, February 27th, Sophia welcomed childhood friends, family, and supporters of her literary debut to The Sanctuary Church in Elmont for, “Meet the Author: A Conversation with Sophia Sunshine Vilceus,” co-hosted by Karl Valere of The Elmont Excelsior.
Dim lighting and quiet songs of inspiration set the tone for the evening, which featured an ice-breaking TLP video trailer, interactive Q&A sessions filled with laughter and truth, an intimate book reading, free giveaways and a surprise visit by New York State Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages — who presented Sophia with a citation for her achievement.
Guests in attendance also observed a moment of silence in honor of the four community members lost tragically in 2015, as well as the life and legacy of beloved Elmont Memorial High School Guidance Counselor and Coach Gregg “Petro” Petrocelli, who passed away exactly nine years to the date of Saturday’s event.
We caught up with Sophia after the event and asked her to share five memorable moments from #TLPinElmont. Here’s what she had to say:
1. Connecting with New Faces
I loved interacting with everyone at the event, particularly with those who I didn’t know. There were a couple of young ladies who opened up to me about their own struggles and shared their testimony with me after the event was over. Over the past few months, I’ve gotten to interact with so many of my friends, family, and loved ones who read the book, that sometimes I forget that there are complete strangers to me that are actually reading my words! There is something extra special about getting to embrace people who I have never met, that appreciate and needed TLP. It makes me feel like I am divinely connected to so many people, unbeknownst to me.
2. Holy Ambience
I loved the atmosphere of The Sanctuary. The name is very fitting for that church. Everyone had been so hospitable and genuinely kind to me and Karl. As we played the Book Trailer (which I’m glad Karl advocated for), there was just this stillness, peace and comfort in the room. Every time we cracked a joke or said something funny throughout the event, I feel like we all became more and more at home. The Sanctuary was our haven for the night.
3. Thoughtful Questions
Karl’s questions were just phenomenal. I just loved how the conversation seamlessly flowed. Karl’s questions were just so thoughtful and organic. I particularly loved the questions about my mother and father. Everytime he asked a question or had a comment about the book, I really felt that he genuinely understood and appreciated the smaller but deepest details of TLP.
I simply loved talking about TLP. This is ministry for me! It’s so much more than a book. And I just felt fulfilled getting to minister in my own way. Talking about this testimony is my favorite thing to do. It was nice being in the presence of people who both read and were anticipating reading TLP. Everyone was just so encouraging and intrigued.
5. The Elmont Connection
AssemblyWoman Solages was such a pleasant surprise. It was my first time meeting her and I truly appreciated her presence. She asked so many great, great questions and presented a beautiful Citation to me. There is something just so genuine about her. And she definitely was the icing on the cake to our event. Her assistant, Alicia, purchased the book and two days after the event reached out to me on social media and told me she read the book in a day! It was so gratifying.
We had so much fun acknowledging Sophia, engaging with her and celebrating her significant milestone (the first of many!) as a proud product of the Elmont community. The Sanctuary could not possibly have been any more perfect as our most gracious and hospitable hosts for the evening. Thank you to everyone who attended, volunteered and supported Sophia & The Last Pew all in the name of community! #WeAreElmont